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Monday, Jun 01, 2020

Coronavirus live news: WHO and Five Eyes reject Chinese lab theory as global deaths pass 250,000

French hospital discovers Covid-19 case from December; Italy’s death toll higher than reported; leaders pledge $8bn to fight virus. Follow the latest updates

Mexico registered 1,434 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday and 117 new deaths, a health official said, bringing the total in the country to 24,905 confirmed cases and 2,271 deaths.

However, health officials have previously said that the real number of cases is much higher.

The World Health Organization hailed the billions of euros raised Monday during a teleconference of world leaders to boost development of a coronavirus vaccine as a strong show of “global solidarity”.

“This was a powerful and inspiring demonstration of global solidarity,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing, of the €7.4bn ($8.1bn) raised towards the development and distribution of a vaccine for the virus that causes Covid-19.

Monday’s teleconference, which was hosted by the European Commission, almost hit the target of €7.5bn for the search for a vaccine to protect against Covid-19, and especially to ensure equitable distribution once one is developed.

“This is an opportunity for the world to come together to confront a common threat, but also to forge a common future,” Tedros said.

He stressed that the money raised would only cover part of the ongoing response against the pandemic, which has killed nearly 250,000 people out of the more than 3.5 million recorded infections globally.

“In the weeks and months ahead, we will need much more to meet the demand for personal protective equipment, medical oxygen and other essential supplies,” he said.

Police swung batons on Monday to beat back thirsty Indians jostling to buy alcohol for the first time in 40 days as the government eased further the world’s biggest coronavirus lockdown, AFP reports.

Some state leaders had pushed for liquor stores to be reopened earlier, saying the money from alcohol sales was a major source of tax revenue.

The Delhi government said late Monday that it would slap a 70% “special corona fee” on liquor sales from Tuesday to boost revenue badly hit by the pandemic, local media reported.

In some states, including Maharashtra, certain liquor stores remained shut amid confusion over which outlets were permitted to open.

And in other states such as in Assam they opened several days earlier.

Although illegal in some states, like teetotaller Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Gujarat, alcohol consumption has risen strongly in recent years as the country’s middle class has grown.

This is particularly true of spirits with Indians reportedly drinking almost half the world’s whisky - although much of it in reality is rum, according to purists.

Israel has isolated a key coronavirus antibody at its main biological research laboratory, the Israeli defence minister said on Monday, calling the step a “significant breakthrough” toward a possible treatment for the Covid-19 pandemic.

The “monoclonal neutralising antibody” developed at the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) “can neutralise it (the disease-causing coronavirus) inside carriers’ bodies,” Defence Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.

The statement added that Bennett visited the IIBR on Monday where he was briefed “on a significant breakthrough in finding an antidote for the coronavirus”.

It quoted IIBR Director Shmuel Shapira as saying that the antibody formula was being patented, after which an international manufacturer would be sought to mass-produce it.

The IIBR has been leading Israeli efforts to develop a treatment and vaccine for the coronavirus, including the testing of blood from those who recovered from Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

China reported one new coronavirus case for 4 May, down from three the day before, data from the national health authority showed on Tuesday.

The new case was imported, the National Health Commission said.

The commission also reported 15 new asymptomatic cases for 4 May, an increase of two from the previous day.

The number of confirmed cases in China has reached 82,881. With no new deaths reported, the death toll remained at 4,633.

Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google on Monday said they would ban the use of location tracking in apps that use a new contact tracing system the two are building to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Reuters reports.

Apple and Google, whose operating systems power 99% of smart phones, said last month they would work together to create a system for notifying people who have been near others who have tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The companies plan to only allow public health authorities to use the technology.
The system uses bluetooth signals from phones to detect encounters and does not use or store GPS location data.

But the developers of official coronavirus-related apps in several US states told Reuters last month it was vital that they be allowed to use GPS location data in conjunction with the new contact tracing system, to track how outbreaks move and identify hotspots.

Apple and Google said they will not allow use of GPS data along with the contact tracing systems. The decision will require public health authorities who want to use GPS location data to rely on unstable workarounds to detect encounters using Bluetooth sensors.

Privacy experts have warned that any cache of location data related to health issues could make businesses and individuals vulnerable to being ostracised if the data is exposed.


California eases Covid-19 restrictions, allowing some businesses to reopen

Some California retailers will be allowed to reopen their businesses starting on Friday, the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, said Monday.

More than six weeks after the California governor issued a nationwide stay-at-home order, shops selling books, clothing, sporting goods, flowers or anything else that a customer can purchase through curbside pickup will be able to open and operate again, if they implement certain modifications.

“We are entering into the next phase this week,” Newsom said. “End of the week, with modifications, we will allow retail to start operating across the spectrum.”

“This is a very positive sign and it has only happened for one reason: the data says it can happen,” he added.

The easing in restrictions came after groups of protesters had gathered across the state in defiance of the lockdown last week. Demonstrations took place from the capital of Sacramento to San Francisco and San Diego. Large crowds turned out in Orange county’s Huntington Beach, a recent flashpoint after the governor had ordered beaches there to close over the weekend.

The sources also insisted that a “15-page dossier” highlighted by the Australian Daily Telegraph which accused China of a deadly cover up was not culled from intelligence from the Five Eyes network, an alliance between the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

British and other Five Eyes agencies do believe that Beijing has not necessarily been open about how coronavirus initially spread in Wuhan at the turn of the year. But they are nervous about getting involved in an escalating international situation.

On Sunday Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said: “I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”

No evidence was offered by Pompeo to back up his assertion but information has been circulating over the last month in the UK, US and Australia aimed at raising questions about the high security Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has long specialised in researching coronaviruses in horseshoe bats.


Summary

Hello and welcome to our rolling coverage of the coronavirus pandemic from around the world. I’m Helen Sullivan and I’ll be with you for the next few hours.

You can get in touch with me on Twitter @helenrsullivan.

The world has passed a sombre milestone, as data shows that at least quarter of a million people have lost their lives in this crisis so far.

The true figure is likely to be higher, with some countries underreporting deaths.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization and intelligence sources have denounced the theory, cited by US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that coronavirus emerged from a laboratory in China. The intelligence sources said there is no current evidence to suggest that coronavirus leaked from a Chinese research laboratory.

The WHO said no evidence had been provided by Washington to substantiate the claims.

Confirmed global death toll exceeds 250,000. According to research by both the Reuters news agency and Johns Hopkins University, at least a quarter of a million people are now known to have died as a result of the pandemic. Globally, 3,062 new deaths and 61,923 new were cases recorded over the past 24 hours, taking total cases to 3.58m. Experts worry the available data is underplaying the true impact of the pandemic. The Johns Hopkins researchers put the known death toll at 250,687.

Five Eyes network contradicts theory Covid-19 leaked from lab. There is no current evidence to suggest that coronavirus leaked from a Chinese research laboratory, intelligence sources have said, contradicting recent White House claims that there is growing proof this is how the pandemic began.

WHO says has no proof from US on ‘speculative’ Wuhan lab claims. The World Health Organization said Monday that Washington had provided no evidence to support “speculative” claims by US president Donald Trump and Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, that the new coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab, AFP reports.

Chinese state media on Monday denounced Mike Pompeo as “insane”. Pompeo has also joined Trump in attacking the World Health Organization, which said Monday it had no evidence that the virus came out of a laboratory.

Germany set to ease restrictions – report. Germany’s state premiers will agree on further measures to ease restrictions during a telephone call with the chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, Reuters reports, citing two people familiar with the preparations.

French hospital discovers Covid-19 case from December. The hospital retested old samples from pneumonia patients and discovered that it treated a man who had Covid-19 as early as 27 December, nearly a month before the French government confirmed its first cases.

Italy’s death toll far higher than reported. Statistics bureau ISTAT said its analysis showed an extra 11,600 deaths were unaccounted for, and it was reasonable to assume these people either died of Covid-19 without being tested or that the extra stress on the health system due to the epidemic meant they died of other causes they were not treated for.

World leaders pledge $8bn to fight coronavirus. At a video-conference summit hosted by the European Union, Japan pledged more than $800m while Germany offered €525m. Italy and Spain each said they would provide more than €100m.

Austrian unemployment at all-time high. The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the number of unemployed Austrians to historically high levels, with a year-on-year rise of almost 60%.

Carnival to resume cruises in August. Carnival Cruise Line has announce

Plans to resume operations at the beginning of August despite dozens of deaths on cruise ships during the Covid-19 pandemic and investigations into the industry’s possible role in spreading the disease around the globe.

Plane carrying aid supplies crashes in Somalia. The accident, involving an African Express Airways plane, killed seven people on board, a security official said.

US supreme court hears arguments by teleconference for first time. In a break from tradition caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the nine justices participated remotely via a dial-in format, while the audio feed was broadcast live.

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